Bombshell Blonde Beer Butt Bird

Southern Star Brewing has been getting a lot of exposure in my recent blogs….good beer and great people so that is not a bad thing. I used Bombshell Blonde cans for a weekend meal – see photo below.

Bombshell Blonde cans sitting in my beer butt holders.

I could not bear wasting this great beer on the chickens, so I spent a leisurely afternoon enjoying the Blondes – BEERS! – and then split a yellow fizzy water brew between the two cans – added garlic powder, Lawry’s seasoning salt and cumin powder to each can – inserted the cans – and grilled with indirect M/H heat for about 80 minutes.

The results – two very moist, tender and tasty chickens. I had an Alaskan Amber as my bread with the meal and salad for my greens –

The chickens – done, tender, moist and oh so good. One was too tender – darn – and fell apart as I removed it!

I peeked at my Imperial Stout this morning and there is a nice krausen up about two inches inside the fermenter and the air lock is bubbling away. I placed my nose close to the air lock and the aroma is heavenly….Need to check the polling results to see how will I enhance the flavor in the secondary!

The vote so far – 50% coffee and 50% bourbon infused oak – help me out – go to the link for the “Brewing Day” post and express you opinion…it really does matter!




Busy Brewing Day

The day was much too busy and much of it was my own doing. The Imperial Stout was a partial mash effort so there was that element of an extra step in the process – not much in the way of work, just time, patience and monitoring. I had trotted off to the store a few hours earlier and my ambitious nature kicked in – I decided to buy a brisket to smoke while the beer was brewing. A perfect excuse for another beer while heating up the  backyard.

All was going smooth until transferring the mash liquor from the kettle to the boiling pot. The bottom of the bag holding the crushed grain busted open. I sent quite a bit of the spent grain over into the boiling pot. I tried fishing out the grains and realized(American spelling) that I was not going to recover mare than about 70% of the grain. Ok, now lets hunt for my wire sieve. I couldn’t find it last time I looked for it so why would I think it would be different this time? “Call a friend” – and yes she had the answer to the question. I enlisted the help of my 17-year-old son… him a start on a skill set that could make him a popular guy in college a few years down the road. (he has to wait until 21 to practice the trade)

I am a busy dude! Keep feeding the wood chips to the smoker, keep an eye on the brew pot, watch the timer for the hops additions, be ready to stir down the potential boil over when adding the hops and keep adding chips to the smoker….oh yes, try a new craft beer! I bought this new one more as a test for my wife. It is called Citra Blonde from Widmer Brothers in Portland Oregon. She did like it and I was pleasantly surprised!  I recently fell in love, a beer this time, with another Widmer beer, Rotator IPA – an ongoing changing recipe. Great concept! A bit like the Yazoo Brewery’s Hop Project!

Beer | Widmer Brothers Brewing  Take a look – first class website and a great overview of how to brew!

It was well after my planned finish time before I pulled the brisket, cooled the beer & pitched the yeast, cleaned the pots, sequestered the fermenter in a cool dark spot and sat down for a brief respite. this looks to be a stout stout….starting gravity of 1.093! I sampled the sweet wort after checking the gravity and the flavors a very interesting even at this early stage of the process. Aroma is nice – if it mellows/matures as I expect, it should be an awesome beer. I am still deciding what to do after transferring to the secondary……coffee – maybe, oak – that is a possibility and maybe oak that has been soaked in a decent bourbon, chocolate – hmmmm maybe not. I have 8 or 10 days to decide. Maybe I run a poll!

Poll Daddy Poll

Sitting back in the shade on the patio – the beer is boiling, the brisket is smoking and a cold beer in my hand.

The brisket – smoked for 7 hours. The thick end was cut off, wrapped tight in foil smothered with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and 10 hours in the oven at 200 F.

That dark crust, enhanced with oak chipped from Jack Daniels bourbon barrels – the bourbon flavor/aroma was not noticeable in the meat but the smoke off of the smoker was pretty yummy! The brisket just fell apart….



My IPA is Tapped

My American IPA is tapped and in the fridge.
I put this batch in 6L mini kegs dispensed with 16 gram CO2 cartridges. The dispenser has a lock on it to prevent accidental discharge. Why am I telling you about the lock…..more of a reminder for me. The last time I used the mini kegs I tapped the first one….a 5 gallon batch fills three of the mini kegs. – Well – I needed to sample the beer just because. I pulled a short glass off of the keg about 9:45 one evening, pushed the lever back to the closed position but, this is the sad part, it was very, very close to being totally closed. It was March 11th, the evening before my birthday and off to bed I went.

My son comes home from a date and at 11:30 or so goes to get something to drink from the fridge. There is beer all over the floor. The tap emitted a fine spray of beer inside the fridge, emptying 6 L of lovingly handcrafted beer all over. I told this story once before on this blog and if you remember – I have a loving and wonderful wife…..due to the proximity of the evening to my Birthday she let me sleep as she cleaned up the mess. I am still in her debt and may be for another 30 years.

By the way…this IPA is very nice – it is a kit beer but they can be very good! This one from Williams Brewing, an American IPA is top-notch as a kit beer.

Here is my Tap-A-Draft set-up in the fridge with the red lock set!

Beer in hte fridge…..tap lever in locked position! iPone photo




Imperial Stout – My Next Homebrew

Fire up the pot and let’s brew something. There was a sad day this summer of 2012! The last two bottles of my Imperial Stout that I lovingly brewed in December of 2012 was consumed….oh it was so good and I was able to share the heavenly experience with my son-in-law. Tayna does not normally drink stouts, but unless he was lying to me…and he knows better than to do that, he complimented me on this beer. It aged incredibly well.

The original batch was an all extract kit from Williams Brewing in California. The kit came with oak chips to add in the secondary and the final product was awesome… took a few, but once it got to that right age….about six months from brew date, it was very drinkable. I was going to order the same kit but decided to buy local. I have been encouraging readers to drink local beers so why not brew with ingredients from the local folks.

I went down to “Backyard Home Brewers Education Center” in downtown Humble yesterday and with the helpful folks there, searched for and found a good-looking partial extract recipe for an Imperial Stout. Now here is another plus of this local store…..cost difference. The Williams Brewing kit would have set me back about $46.00 plus shipping, here, the grain, extract, hops and yeast total cost was a bit over $26.00. I saved some money and got to build my own recipe! Oh yes, they had an Oatmeal Stout on tap in the store that was very tasty. Tomorrow, Saturday, they are having an all grain education brewing class…I wish I could make it but I am off to watch my youngest play soccer.

I will keep all y’all posted on the progress of this batch. I think I will saturate my oak additions in a good bourbon before adding them to the secondary. Yum! Check out the store and education opportunities if you live in the area.

A glass of my old stout, so dense that no light can penetrate its murky and tasty depths!

A glass of the previous batch…..just a wee bit heavy and oh so good!

Recipe will be posted soon.



Billings Montana? Ok, Twist My Arm, I’ll Go

I have been asked to deliver one of my training sessions in Billings, Montana for a small energy producer. I have been doing a little work for them over the past few months. Sessions in Midland, TX, Houston, TX, Laredo, TX and Williston North Dakota.

Midland – beer offerings are ordinary and lack variety for craft beers lovers.

Houston – Making its mark with some excellent local choices and establishments. I am working on trying them all – Karbach, St Arnolds and Southern Star are top notch. No Label Brewing in Katy is on my bucket list, as is Bayou Brewing….

Laredo…sorry my research is coming up empty.

Williston – pubs maybe

Billings Montana – Jackpot !!!!!! 8 craft breweries in the city limits and 10 in the greater Billings area…. Three days is only going to whet the appetite – I will provide a report out sometime around the 7th or 8th of September….maybe some updates via iPhone posts…. I do have to real work to do  – kinda….I have a trout fishing float trip scheduled for the 5th and the class is on the 6th. I will behave appropriately!

There are 4 beer brewers within walking distance of my hotel and Angry Hanks looks like a short cab ride away…. Most will offer tasters…those little 5 oz glasses……an easier way to taste a broad suite of beers….. it used to be that 5 pints wasn’t much effort but I would like  not be swayed by that 5th pint….The truth and only the unbiased/unhazed truth.

A little research brought up this photo…..looks like people I can relate to !!!! Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. Staff.

Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. – Head Brewer Ryan Koga, Room Manager Donnie Veltri, and Manager/Brewer George Moncure

I apologize if I am using your photo  without permission… were just such a handsome bunch that I could not resist.



Just a thought – old stories, mountain bikes, blood, beer and essentially flat trails……a birdie dropped a little something in my inbox today and the stories, to the best of my recollection, may find a forum here……beer and blood in the early mornings…could be fun. Thanks Pat.


Missed Beer Opportunity

It wasn’t quite the end of the world – it was a matter of electronic communications and proper behavior on my part. I rolled off to Bass Pro Shop Sunday afternoon for a manly man shopping day. When I arrived I looked at my iPhone and saw that I had an email from a Kingwood buddy and an awesome homebrewer and he was in need of some help.

My Mailbox indicated a 3:25 PM message that I did not get a chance to respond to until I was stopped in the Bass Pro Shop parking lot – Pearland, TX. Note for Mike….it said that you sent the message on Wednesday May 7th 2003 at 9:25 pm – I think something is amiss with your mail account. Message sent to me and good friend John.

“Sent: Wed 5/7/2003 9:25 PM

Just got thru putzin around the garage an figured itz time for a beer.  If you guys can get away, I need help finishing off the Bock so I can fridge my Pilz before the summer is over.Come on by for a brew or 2.”

I replied that I was in Pearland and would be happy to help with the inventory problem….I am good at reducing beer inventories!

I was able to swing by his house at 5:20 PM but alas….no answer to my thirsty knock.

Plan B – I saw a tweet that Flying Saucer had Southern Star’s ProAm 2012 in stock. This is a Double IPA that I sampled a few weeks ago at their brewery tour. It is an awesome beer. The local HEB typically has Southern Star offerings so I swung by…if I can’t get one of Mike’s homebrews I will seek out an acceptable alternative.

I struck out again but there was still an out left before retiring the side….I wandered the aisle and found – a six-pack of Alaskan Amber. Ok I am on base now, made my purchase and headed home where 3 thick T-bone steaks were seasoned and ready to throw on the grill. Photos via iPhone.

The Alaskan Amber fulfilling the role of grill-mate, a job well suited for this Alaskan offering.

Three Tbones – mine closest to the front with lots of coarse ground black pepper! Garlic French bread lingering in the far corner.

Salad with spicy ranch dressing joined the meal and finished off with a Lazy Magnolia Pecan Brown Ale. Shared the meal with my wife – she just cut the tender part out of the T-bone and told – no – asked me to keep my hands off of the remainder…she loves cold steak! I poured her a Bombshell Blonde from Southern Star – life really is good!

Mike – I am always willing to help reduce inventory….please invite me again…




Sharing With a Fishing Buddy – A reblog

I am sitting in my kayak about 400 yds offshore, big rollers sweeping by, sharing the morning with my oldest son……….Ben

Saturday August 11th my son Ben and I loaded up and headed down to the Galveston area for a day of fishing. Fishing wasn’t so good and we had quite an adventure “trying” to navigate the much heavier than usual surf getting back in.  Ben shot this photo in the early morning light….he caught the mood of the day – kind of solitary but shared with a fishing buddy and in this case, someone I love and care for.  We don’t normally have lots of conversation….he and I are sometimes pretty quiet. We share a lot quietly. He is back to school at LSU and we will quietly remember this day spent together. The photo perfectly captures my heart and emotiuons…Thanks Ben

On Sunday Ben drove me out to the airport to drop me off. He did more than drop me off though… he walked around to my side of the truck gave me a big hug, it didn’t need words… I felt the love. Thanks again Ben….. I love you too!

Beer, Baseball and an iPhone

Over the past few weeks I find that I have been pairing beer with lots of things….fishing, fish tacos, brewery tours, vacation sampling and now baseball……that shouldn’t be much of a surprise for anyone that has attended a baseball game….the only pairing that I can think of that I won’t write about is beer and driving. This is a family blog, no, not really, maybe more of a responsible beer blog…yeah that should work.

I was off to Midland, Texas this week earning a little money so I can continue with my many hobbies. Wednesday of this past week the local AA team, the Midland Rockhounds were returning to town to open a stand vs. the Arkansas Naturals. The attendance was sparse… not like my previous visit of a month ago. The Rockhounds were rocking the Naturals! A 5 run first inning and it was hit after hit from there on. I think I may know why we saw the low attendance – The Rockhounds are in the cellar of their division with just 24 wins…..sad…..but the poor “Naturals” were in the same position for their division with just 17 wins to show for their efforts.

Midland is still in a drought and no relief on the horizon. Odessa is proposing a 40% increase in water rates – those lawns that have some color other than dead will soon join the desert look of the region. The other drought  is for local craft beers…. I do have to give the stadium vender a pat on the back for a variety beyond the standard Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light…..You can get  on draught – Dos XX’s, Shiner Bock (Texas Beer), Blue Moon Belgian Wit, Shock Top and ………….. insert 7 hour pause here because I just flat drew a blank. I sent my work partner for this trip an SOS call to help me out and then got busy with other tasks. An hour ago I was driving down Kingwood drive and ran into the word – Ziegenbock! Ah, that’s the beer I was drinking last night….and no I did not over do it….just two beers!  Wikpedia labels it as an “imitation craft brew marketed under Anheuser-Busch’s ICS (Import – Craft – Specialty) brand, positioned as a Texan beer to compete with Shiner Bock.” It is not a bad beer and competes well with Shiner Bock! Thanks Pat for sending the “Zig” text message….

Discussion on lost thoughts – I think they leave your brain as cyberwaves and float around until your brain collides with them and they can then be pulled back in. I am sure that we all have a unique harmonic frequency for our brain waves and when we encounter one of those orphan thoughts vibrating at “our” frequency we can recapture the thought. Makes sense to me….. the science geeks will say something like – you encounter some sensory clue, sight, sound or smell that allows the brain to connect that lost thought with the neural links that were associated to that thought or idea….. I prefer my harmonic mind meld explanation better.

As an aid for this post I am sampling a local beer brewed by Karbach brewery right here in Houston. I have previously enjoyed their “Hopadillo” IPA. Tonight’s choice is their Rodeo Clown Double IPA – mmmmmmm pretty tasty and one will probably be enough for the evening. Midland, Odessa, Lubbock and or Amarillo are in need a a local craft brewery – I correct myself…. Wicked Beaver Brewery is located up in the Lubbock area – they need to market in Midland! I just did a little snooping….these guys are committed craft brewers, creative, whacked out sense of humor (I like that!) and looks like they are branching out!

Wicked Beaver Brewing LLC | West Texas Craft Brewery | Dam Good Beer

I saw a photo on their Facebook that got me thinking. There are many many millions of beer drinkers in the US. If we all shift a significant portion of our $ spent on beer to true craft brewers we can help out the good ole USA.  Cut back on your Budweiser….. it is brewed by a Belgian-Brazilian beer conglomerate….Yes they have US breweries employing US workers but they own so much of the market your shift will not be a blip on their radar. There goes my Ziegenbock choice … Now Coors, is brewed  by the Canadian Molson Coors Brewing Company and is the third-largest brewer in the United States. At least it is North American. Drink Blue Moon or Killian’s Irish Red – close to craft beers.

Now my iPhone shots from the Midland Rockhounds game.

My Jumbo Dog, mustard, catsup or ketchup – whatever, relish, onions and the West Texas favorite…smothered with jalapenos!

From our seats…. somebody liked us and set us up with box seats. Thanks Zoe at the Residence Inn in Midland. Please note the Chevron(my former employer) sign on the outfield wall. The first of several Rockhounds home runs went out way above the Chevron sign.

Blue Moon Belgian Wit beers were quite common – Go Coors.

I have to give her credit – beer in one hand – social networking with the other and she glanced up when the crowd made noise!

And heeeeeeres Rocky –

The Rouckhounds have such a great family stadium and Rocky is a favorite with the kids.

Remember – Drink local – support the guys that lovingly CRAFT your beer!



Fishing and Beer

Friday night this past week we invited our best friends, Bev and John and their newly employed son Ryan over for fish tacos….from the Spanish mackerel caught earlier in the week. My son Ben caught the fish, prepared the fish and the prep for frying them up was all his doing! He did well! I also contributed my Flounder to the mix and wrapped it in foil butter and secret seasonings – done up on the grill.

The beer component – a Newcastle mini-keg, Lazy Magnolia Pecan Brown, Yazoo Hop Project, Bombshell Blonde, Pinebelt Ale, few that were lingering in the back of the fridge and young Ryan – the newly employed Ryan brought over a some offerings from Southern Star – a seasonal that was very good…more on that later.

The fish tacos were superb! The company and fellowship were superb! It was too friggin hot to be outside very long……We fried the fish outside on my beer boiling and turkey frying burner…..last batch of fish the gas ran out…the back-up bottle was empty but I saved the day with my single burner camp stove….not real stable with a big pan of hot oil on it but we finished it off and secured the hot oil without incident. We also celebrated Sierra’s birthday. Ben claims she turned two on or about this day…see photo below.

The Livezeys rolled off to the house about 10 ish and I wasn’t far behind. Ben had planned another kayak trip for dark thirty Saturday morning….It turned out to be an interesting trip. The weather report did not indicate much wind but the surf was up, choppy and muddy brown…What the heck….I was first out. Wow! It was a challenge to bust out through the breakers – several  pounded down on the deck and filled the cockpit. Fortunately my kayaks are sit on tops and self draining. I was committed – there was no way to turn around and abandon this folly now. It kept pounding and pounding and pounding and finally 250 – 300 yds out the waves stopped breaking. The swells were 3-4 feet and it was work to fish and keep the bow into the waves. Fishing was bad.

The return trip was going to be a bigger thrill. I was oblivious to the wind and drift. Finally we need to head to shore and I was lost. Ben pointed out the launch point…..probably a good 2 miles against the wind and subject to the big rollers coming through. It was a workout. We discussed how to secure all loose items and then Ben went first – I was sitting 200 yards out and catching a glimpse of the rhythmic dipping  of the oars into the water then nothing! I looked for a couple of minutes and then finally saw him struggling in surf with the orange kayak. It took him a while but I finally saw him drag it up on the beach. Now it was my turn.

I caught a few of the rollers coming in, you could feel the acceleration but also the power. I would attempt to steer and was doing a decent job until……a big one lifted me up…..My kayaks are not designed for the surf… rocker. They are 14 feet long and my previous experience with the kayak showed a tendency to bury the nose in the surf. In the past, leaning back, steering hard and being patient was enough. Not today, the nose buried itself deeply and veered right, I steered hard left and leaned and leaned and just when I thought I was going to stay up right…..over I went.

I had asked Ben to video my attempt because I knew it would be a source of amusement. He later told my that it happened too quickly and it was not recorded…… I would love to post it here but all you have is my poor attempt to describe it. I hope you laugh at me just the same.

We fish a little more on the Bay side, caught a few undersized Redfish and fought the wind again. We were tired puppies coming home. At home I popped the top on a Southern Star Seasonal, sighed, enjoyed the great taste and also savored the adventure and great day out with my son!

Fish fryer Ben and his birthday girl Sierra. Happy 2nd birthday!

TTFN – Drink Local!


Southern Star – Fishing and Homebrewing Aids

Well, I am starting over with this post…tried something new and the picture of Ben and two Spanish Macks was posted but the time spent with the blog story went off into cyber space somewhere….do you think it may reformulate and appear in the future? Oh well – what did I try to write earlier?

Three AM yesterday my son Ben and I left Kingwood Texas and headed south to the Galveston area. Our first planned stop was Tiki Island just before the big bridge over the intercoastal Channel. We launched with the intent of fishing under some lights around the docks of the homes on the island. We found some lights…we could see a lot of fish cruising through the lights with a few much bigger than the others. Fish were jumping all around us – in fact one jumped and landed on the bow hatch and then back into the water. A couple of sand trout took our offerings, I had a big. heavy strike and the line broke off – 6 lb line……

The sky began to get some color so we headed off to the grass and marsh area back toward I-45. I caught and land a real nice flounder on a soft palstic….not much else was biting so off to IHOP before the next location. After breakfast we headed south toward Jamaica Beach.

On arrival we saw several people wade fishing out about chest high in the water. As we were rigging up the kayaks a man and his daughters came out of the water, done for the day.They had a stringer of nice speckled trout. One of the daughters wanted to see some photos of the Jack Cravelle that the girls caught….big smiles on both of the young ladies. Another fisherman waded out of the surf with another nice stringer of specks. We were late for the speckled trout bite we were still there to fish.

As we were getting ready we also learned that the Spanish Mackerel were biting, so off we went…..Ben got into the Spanish Macks right away. I kept breaking off with the light line so I switched to the pole rigged with 15 lb line….I still couldn’t match Ben…..he was hammering the fish. Mackerel, sand trout, Jack Cravelle, sharks…. yes a few sharks, Gaff Top Catfish – I caught several of those too and paid dearly….I got punctured badly by the dorsal spine and bled like a stuck pig for a bit….I kept expecting Jaws to show up!

I was near Ben when he hooked one of the bigger sharks….the kayak swung around and he was being towed off to deeper water…..stripping line off the reel. Finally after a big jump the 4 foot +/- shark broke off and swam away. I was catching fish but at a much slower pace than Ben was. When we ran out of bait….I caught a few on soft plastic lures after the bait ran out, we paddled in. I saw Ben get himself lined up straight into the beach and surfed the kayak up on the small swells….. I also got a little lift in on the swells and had a little fun.

Where id the beer in this story? Ok I did have an ice cold Pine Belt Ale in 16 oz can by Southern Star Brewery before calling it a day…. just one. More once I arrived home safely. We fileted out the macks for fish tacos …. Friday night and I prepped the flounder to be baked. A couple of Pinebelt Ales aided the fish cleaning!!!!!

Today on the never ending honey do list I added the kegging of my American IPA ….. it had been deferred several times and I needed to get it into the 6 L minikegs. It always take a little bit of good beer to do any home brewing task. So – Bishop – how does a Pinebelt Ale sound – duh…always good! I also had a Bombshell Blonde – my wife Kathy says the aroma is good but the taste lags a little….everyone has their own opinion. I like it but it is a bit light on the robust flavors of the IPA’s I have grown fond of….

I continued scratching at an ongoing honey do bullet…clean the garage but that is a long-term project…take a break and fire up the grill. Pour a Diamond Bear Pale Ale from Little Rock Arkansas. That almost made it through the chicken grilling and fire management efforts….just a small fire…. minor carcinogen build-up before I controlled the blaze and also put the fire out in the drip pan….standard grilling procedures.  To go with the meal and aid in posting I popped the top on a Lazy Magnolia Indian Summer Spiced Ale…pretty tasty and I know Kathy would like this…she loves Shock Top And Blue Moon Belgian Wit so this would have a similar but I think less spicy flavor…just enough.

Now if I were in London, sampling the Olympic offerings……would I have some sweet choices at the local pubs… doubt.

I am a fan…. You need to try it….it kinda grows on you. Just bough another 4 pack this evening for the fish taco night tomorrow.

A little humidity sweat forming on the can…yes there is a temerature differential and a little moisture in the air….better drink it quickly!

Ben…still rubbing it in with his mackerel.